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Mixed reaction to Apple's message

While reaction to Apple's message at Macworld Expo was mostly positive, many expressed concern over Microsoft's $150 million investment in the company.

BOSTON--On the show floor at Macworld Expo today, reaction to Apple's message was mixed, with many Mac fans expressing concern over Microsoft's $150 million investment in the company.

Most attendees said that at whatever cost the continued existence of Apple is a must. Macworld saga Despite the presence of a number of attendees wearing T-shirts stenciled with the words "Microsoft sucks," most accepted the necessity of a cash influx.

"I hope they didn't let the wolf in the front door," said Peter Enot, a systems engineer at the Hartford Group. While he acknowledged that the deal was "good for Apple," he also worried that while customers might accept Microsoft, developers are less likely to do so.

Charles Medler, who works for Internet service provider TASC, seemed to think it was inevitable: "I wish it wasn't necessary, but I think at this time it's good."

Others seemed more positive. To them, a clearer strategy far outweighed the importance of the Microsoft investment.

Phil Pompa, a vice president at Mac clone maker Umax Computer, said he likes the increased stability the Microsoft deal brings. "We'd rather spend our time talking about the Mac OS to customers than defending Apple," he said.

Craig Isaacs, vice president of sales and marketing at Dantz Development, felt the new selection of board members was especially critical to Apple's success. "They did a great job with the board." The only member Isaacs worried about was Oracle's Larry Ellison, who previously voiced takeover intentions with regard to Apple.

GoLive Systems, makers of the CyberStudio Web site authoring software, chose to develop only for the Macintosh platform because it was the system that the majority of their users had. Thomas Murke, chief technology officer of GoLive, expressed concern about Apple's silence on the issue of Mac OS licensing--like Dantz, GoLive relies on clone vendors for sales.

Yesterday's announcements "had a significant positive effect on consumers' willingness to invest in software," observed Mark Zimmer, chief technology officer of MetaCreations, a firm that produces graphics software for both Macs and PCs.

Zimmer supported Apple's refocusing on the graphics and education markets. Those markets "must not be lost," noted Zimmer. Like many other vendors, Zimmer also supported the idea of a thriving Mac-compatible market.

Users also were both pleased and cautious. "I'm much more pleased than I expected to be," said Ed Noonan, a writer for an adventure magazine who also does Web publishing on the Macintosh.

But, he added, "I didn't like to see Bill Gates." Noonan questioned the wisdom of focusing on Microsoft while deemphasizing applications that are the Macintosh's true forte. "What about Adobe?" he asked, referring to the powerful graphics software that's a mainstay application for the Macintosh. He said Steve Jobs made a reference to Adobe in the keynote presentation but never followed up with any specific renewed commitment to the company.

John Stars, an attendee, summed up the work that Apple has cut out for itself when he said, "Apple can't just talk about it."

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